Gender And Offstage Strict Adherence On Traditional Gender Roles Essay

Gender And Offstage Strict Adherence On Traditional Gender Roles Essay

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This extreme contrast between the onstage fluidity of gender and offstage strict adherence to traditional gender roles is quite different from the traditions of kabuki theater. Where the Takarazuka otokoyaku are idolized as women who never quite cross the line to become truly masculine, “Kabuki’s onnagata … were theorized as “becoming Woman” to enact ideals of femininity that real females were urged to follow”(Figal 754). While they both serve to reinforce the patriarchy by placing men and the masculine in a position to dictate what it means to be feminine, at least the Takarazuka stage allows women to appear as role models to other women rather than just men dressed as women. Another detail that shows the difference between Takarazuka and kabuki is that “Unlike kabuki actors, who come exclusively from kabuki families stretching back generations, Takarazuka is meritocratic. Competition to attend the prestigious school is legendary: of about 1,000 girls who apply each year, just 50 are accepted”(Pilling 2). Takarazuka imposes strict rules on it’s actresses, but also gives them world class training in their chosen fields – that of dance, drama, singing, and body language. That this training is accompanied by the Takarazuka’s unusual training in performing gender merely speaks to the idea that “Personal motivations and desires aside, both musumeyaku and otokoyaku are products of a dominant social ideology that privileges masculinity and men”(Robertson 12).
Having discussed the general historical baggage associated with the other theater groups used, almost as props, by the Takarazuka revue, let us now address the specifics as they relate to the Shakespearian play, Twelfth Night, from which Epiphany is adapted. Even before any changes...


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...azuka Revue will turn 100 in a little over a year. They have faced two world wars, the bluestocking women’s rights movement, and the occasional lesbian scandal, yet in many ways the rules of the theater treat their actresses as if it were still 1913. While the actresses continue to subvert gender roles and the patriarchy on-stage, often growing more and more subversive as the years pass, off-stage little has changed. However, while the male management would like to return to a time when the public sentiment felt that “its otokoyaku provide fans with romantic dreams of ideal men who understand women’s needs and emotions”(Yano 215), it must be acknowledged that “In short, critics and fans of Takarazuka … have since its founding contributed, intentionally or not, to the writing of a lesbian and/or antipatriarchal subtext within Takarazuka’s patriarchal text”(Figal 754).

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